On March 26, 1997, at 0757 eastern standard time, a Bell UH-1H helicopter, Colombian registration PNC160, was destroyed following a loss of control while maneuvering near Mariquita, Colombia. The flight instructor and the student pilot sustained fatal injuries. The helicopter was registered to the Government of Colombia, and being operated by the National Police Flight School, on a local training flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight for which a VFR flight plan was filed. The instructional flight originated from the Mariquita Airport at 0710.

According to a witness near the airport, the helicopter was observed flying beyond the point where the turn from crosswind to downwind is normally made. The witness further stated that he observed the helicopter execute a 180 degree turn and head towards the airport while descending. The witness reported that when it was approximately 50 meters above the ground, the nose of the helicopter assumed a nose high attitude as he heard a change in the flapping sound of the helicopter. He stated that the nose pitched up to a near vertical position and continued around until the helicopter impacted the ground in a near vertical nose down attitude.

Examination of the wreckage at the accident site confirmed that the helicopter impacted the ground in a slight left bank, in a nose down attitude. A post-impact fire destroyed the helicopter. The accident is under the jurisdiction of the Government of Colombia. This report is for informational purposes only and contains only information released by the Government of Colombia.

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